Golf Mental Articles Archives

Winning At All Costs

Article courtesy of Wade Pearse

Winning - The Promised Land

How do you go about your matches or tournaments?
What is your mindset?
Do you play with a sense of goodwill or do you get caught in the ego desire to “crush” your opponent(s)?

This isn’t saying that winning isn’t important, it’s just a comment on how best to play in the true spirit of the game. I find that many players, in their desire to win, actually focus their mind on the wrong things that take them out of their game and their play suffers from this.

In the west we’ve been conditioned to focus only on being 1st. After all, if you don’t win you’re just the first loser. This is the western mantra, like it or not. Sad, really.

I recall David Duval finishing 2nd in the Masters one year behind Tiger woods. He was being interviewed and a reporter commented on “how bad you must feel for losing.” David, in a response filled with amusement and amazement said, “Where did the idea come from that finishing 2nd is losing?! Of course I wanted to win but why should I feel bad for finishing in 2nd in a major championship?”

His point is spot on, in my opinion. The compulsion to only care about the big “W” is killing many players’ chances at performing to their potential.

Winning “Isn’t” Everything

Being so centered around getting the victory at all costs and feeling bad when this doesn’t happen is a recipe for actually becoming the loser everyone dreads being.

Think about it.

If you feel poorly every time you don’t win a bet with your buddies, a match or a PGA event, you better give up the game of golf real soon and spare yourself a future filled with inner torment and grief.

The game is about you challenging yourself and playing a golf course.

The true competition is yourself!

If you tap your potential and learn how to channel all of your skills, both mind and body, into your game, then you’ll experience victory every time you tee it up.

The camaraderie is another important part of golf.

Congratulating your opponent/friend when they win is equally important as winning itself. Jack Nicklaus prided himself on being a gracious “loser” (I use that term loosely of course) and making damn sure he left his bruised ego out of things after a match/tournament.

Winning is a state of mind, not just something that happens when you come in 1st.

When you’re mind is prepared properly, you respect the game and your playing partners/opponents, you won’t need to concern yourself so much about winning. You’ve already won.

Enjoy the fullness of the game.

This really relaxes the mind and then personal victory is inevitable.

When you make this approach your overall mental habit, you will get those actual “wins” far more often.

Golf Rules Were NOT Made To Be Broken

Article courtesy of Wade Pearse

In Golf Rules Weren't Made To Be Broken

It’s been my experience that the majority of golfers look at the rules of golf as being something that works against them. And that they cost them more strokes than they save them. I disagree with this assertion and so should you.

A rule is a rule. A set of guidelines that provide a framework to play an equitable game within. Fairness is the intent, not punishment. It's this perception of being the victim that make players bend the rules to suit them, at times. If you look at ALL of your rounds of golf (ok, this isn’t possible but for the sake of conversation) you’d find an equal number of instances where the rules, if in fact you knew them, actually helped you.

The notion that rules “cost you strokes” causes people to break the very rules that provide fairness, equity and integrity to the game of golf.

While in most other sports players actively manipulate the rules to gain an advantage and believe that if you ain't cheatin' you ain't tryin', golf stands almost on its own in valuing rules as almost sacred. Without question the integrity of the game rests in our self-regulation and of holding rules in such high regard. We develop a respect for the rules and play within them.

If you know them they will help you just as much as they cost you. I recall hitting a ball way left toward the O.B. It was definitely heading O.B. yet hit the O.B. stake head on and kicked the ball back in play. Not only back in play but it also landed on a cart path. Hmm…I’m not required to stand on a cart path. So I took a relief, dropped my ball and was left with a perfect lie.

You can easily be like Sergio Garcia and focus on how the golfing gods are against you and that you, and just you, get all the bad bounces. This is your choice, of course. But ask yourself if this empowers you or disempowers you?

You get loads of good bounces and good breaks. You just need to pay attention to them more.

The rules will help you especially if you look at things this way. I am serious. Just by stating to yourself “the rules of golf are designed to support me in shooting the best score I am capable of”, you are putting yourself in a truly positive frame of mind. One based in a positive expectancy. Not “expectations”: expectancy. There’s a big difference.

Look at Rules as Your Ally

By looking at rules in this way you will make an effort to read them and really get an understanding of them. You will find that there are rules that can save your bacon in a tournament if you know them. Just like in Phoenix years ago when Tiger enlisted the fans to help him move a huge boulder out of the way of his iron shot. It was a movable obstruction so he moved it. Nowhere did the rules say only “he” could move the obstruction.

Now I want you to notice the conversation that is going on in your head right now. How do you feel about what Tiger did? What are you saying to yourself?

This is an insight into your attitude around rules. Have an attitude that every rule is there for your benefit. Will a rule cost you strokes once in a while? Of course. But it isn’t the “rule” that cost you the stroke, it was your shot!

So no matter what occurs during a round of golf ,treat it with a curious, almost excited state of mind. You might say to yourself after hitting O.B., “Ok, how cool will it be when I get a bogie on this hole even after hitting O.B.?” I teach players to keep the exact same perspective on a birdie or a quad. After a bad hole where a rule seemed to cost a stroke my players know it had nothing to do with the rules.

They immediately gather their attention and double their focus. Unlike the majority of players who turn an already bad hole into a nightmare and let the round get away from them.

Think about it. What feels better then taking a 5 on a hole where you were O.B. off the tee? And then calmly making a birdie on the very next hole… You’re even par for the two holes. This is the attitude to have.

The bounce back stat is one of the most telling stats you can monitor on your game in my opinion.

True mental toughness.

Have the attitude that rules are your friend and that ANY result from a ruling will work in your favor. This way no matter what happens, your mind and emotions remain relaxed and centered on the shot at hand.

You’ll be amazed at how things seem to go in your favor when you take this approach.

© 2010 Wade Pearse

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